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Alaska - Hatcher Pass road conditions

Old Aug 14th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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Alaska - Hatcher Pass road conditions

I would like to take Hatcher Pass as part of my route from Anchorage to Talkeetna at the end of August. When I asked the rental car agency about taking the car on an unpaved road, they said that it was a "grey area" and I'd be out of luck if I had car problems and would be responsible for any damage. How bad is the road? I'm certainly not planning on speeding down the road, but how much traffic is on the road (i.e. how much of chance of the car being hit by a rock thrown up by another car). Thanks!
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Old Aug 14th, 2005, 06:40 PM
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Well, there's not a ton of traffic, but there are people who drive a bit too fast on it & could throw up rocks. It's more a dirt road than strictly gravel, lots of potholes, very bumpy, a big rock now and then. It is wide enough, they do grade it now and again, but you will go slow, you will get bounced a lot. No guardrails, which at the top of the pass just after Summit Lake, I find a bit scary.

I do see people take rental cars there (my summer hobby is guessing which cars are locals and which are tourists!). I will only go up in my SUV, personally, wouldn't want to bounce my car around too much (potential ground clearance issue? I may just be paranoid.)

It is very pretty up in the Hatcher's Pass area - I would encourage you, if you have the time, to take the drive up from Palmer to Independence Mine (that part is paved & lovely), and spend some time walking around the mine - the state has done a lovely job with walking paths and signage and some restoration of the old buildings.

Hatcher's Pass road from the mine up to the pass & the lake, from a scenery standpoint, might be worth the risk...but, after you get back down the other side, you just drive along the creek on this miserable road for what seems like forever. I suppose it might save time as opposed to going all the way around; but I'd be tempted to turn around at the lake, if I went up at all (in fact, when my in-laws came to visit, that is exactly what we did).

Those are just my thoughts, guess that doesn't give you a clear yes or no, but maybe some of that information will be helpful.

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Old Aug 15th, 2005, 03:33 AM
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You need to verify if this is approved by the rental company, then make sure your insurance covers you. Mine considers any nonpaved road, as "off road" and no coverage. It is very slow going, be sure to note and photograph your rental if you still go, before it leaves the lot. A cracked windshield is costly, even at least a deductable. It is completely paved and well maintained Palmer-Independence Mine.
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Old Aug 15th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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Thanks for the responses, I am spending the night at Hatcher Pass Lodge, and am now thinking that I will end up turning around and getting to Talkeetna thru Palmer/Wasilla. I'd really like to take Hatcher Pass all the way to where it connects with the Parks Highway, but I haven't found any car rental agencies that explicitly allow their rental cars on Hatcher Pass and am reluctant to risk car problems.
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Old Aug 16th, 2005, 05:04 PM
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I'm thinking about staying at Hatcher Pass Lodge (& visiting the mine) in mid-Sept (not planning on taking the road across) - Please let me know how your visit there was & how much time to plan on spending at the mine-thanks
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Old Aug 19th, 2005, 08:44 PM
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We just got back and used a local company in Achorage, High Country Car Rentals. They have no restrictions on Denali and Hatcher Pass roads. Tge cars have some mileage on them but were in fine shape. Just don;t speed on the roads and keep your distance from other cars (wise to see through their dust anyway.)

High Country picked us up at our hotel and returned us to the airport and not only were their prices competitive (though includes only 100 miles a day; 25cents per after) but you avoid the outrageous airport fees.

(888) 685-1155 or (907) 562-8078

This is a small company with several auto related businesses.
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